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Driven by Penang’s position as the country’s leading E&E hub, the State in recent years has attracted and recorded an outstanding investment performance in 2019 and 2020, clocked up a total of RM31 billion manufacturing investment, out of which RM25.6 billion came from Foreign Direct Investments (23% of Malaysia’s total) and the remaining from Domestic Direct Investments. These projects are expected to generate approximately 32,000 new job opportunities in the State.

The new investments and expansions of existing foreign and local companies had inevitably led to the escalating need for the supply of technically skilled workforce, particularly talents in mechatronics and precision machining.

Scope and methodology of the study

Responding to this need, the Penang STEM focus group, comprised of Penang STEM, InvestPenang, Penang Science Cluster (PSC) and Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) embarked on a 3-month study from March to June 2021.

Scope of study

The study was conducted to understand:

  1. the demand and supply of technical talents in mechatronics and precision machining,
  2. the underlining causes for the decline in student recruitments and
  3. the immediate and long-term solution to bridge the demand and supply of technical talents.


An initial list of 30 institutions was identified (Institut Latihan Perindustrian (ILPs), vocational colleges, polytechnics & private institutions). Based on the relevant courses currently offered, assessment of their training facilities and student capacities, 3 TVET institutions were shortlisted and recommended:

  1. Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC)
  2. Japan-Malaysia Technical Institute (JMTI)
  3. Fourier TVET Centre (FTC)

(Walta Centre of Excellence (WCOE) – had been identified for future participation as they are newly established)

TVET Talent Landscape – Challenges and Recommendations

Amongst the contributory factors to the decline in student enrollment were mainly lack of monetary attractiveness in terms of salary, the financial burden in supporting their studies and overall lack of student interest in STEM at school levels.

To address this, a 2-phase approach for bridging technical talent demands was formulated to first focus on the immediate increase in student enrollment via work-study TVET programmes which allow students to earn while studying and in the longer term,  proposed measures to increase the maximum capacity to meet projected 5-year demands.

Pursuant to the in-depth study, industry leaders, specifically C-suite and human resource experts, were engaged to partake in an interactive webinar led by InvestPenang, together with PSDC, JMTI, FTC and PSC. Dato’ Loo Lee Lian, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Penang, imparted key insights into Penang TVET talent landscape focusing specifically on the supply and demand over the next 5 years and the calibrated proposed solutions in elevating student enrollment. The 3 TVET institutions were represented respectively by Mr. Muhamed, CEO of PSDC, Mr. Muzafar, Deputy Director of Engineering Consultancy Services, JMTI and Mr. Pau, Principal of FTC, individually presented their work-study programmes that the industry leaders could leverage to bridge their technical talent needs. Mr. Ooi, CEO of PSC also touched on the centre’s key action plans to spark early interest, instill passion and inspire upper school students about TVET careers and pathways.

Looking ahead, to mitigate and bridge this issue, Dato’ Loo reiterated and urged industry partners to invest, strategise coupled with competitive compensation packages and collaborate with the TVET institutions in building a sustainable technical pipeline as demand will only surge moving forward.

Collaborative partnership with TVET institutions:

Contact person: Tham Kok Kee
Phone & Email: 012-555 9550 /

Contact person: Mohamad Azlan bin Khalili
Phone & Email: 013-397 8440 /

Contact person: Pau Kew Chong
Phone & Email: 012-418 9158 /

Companies wishing to participate in schools outreach programme:

More info on the Bridging Technical Talent Demand initiative by the PSTEM TVET Focus Group